by Ronald T. Potter-Efron and Patricia S. Potter-Efron
New Harbinger, 2006
Review by Leo Uzych, J.D., M.P.H. on Sep 4th 2007
Letting Go of Anger, Second Edition, doughtily tackles the difficult task of effectual anger management. Coauthor Dr. Ronald T. Potter-Efron is a psychotherapist in private practice, specializing in anger management; remaining coauthor Patricia S. Potter-Efron is a clinical psychotherapist. Potter-Efron and Potter-Efron ardently espouse the view that anger is a natural emotion bound indissolubly to being human. Displaying exemplary adeptness, Potter-Efron and Potter-Efron craftily etch the distinguishing features of eleven distinctive styles of anger, and shine luminous light on things that can be done to possibly overcome problematic aspects of the respective anger styles. A careful reading of this enlightening self help book, styled informally in plain English fashion, may considerably help the reader learn to let go of unhealthy parts of anger.
The core issue of interest to Potter-Efron and Potter-Efron is how people manage their anger. To garner fuller understanding of this cardinal interest, Potter-Efron and Potter-Efron have selectively chosen to describe eleven distinct anger styles. Separate chapters are devoted to a deftly revealing dissection and examination of each of the eleven styles of anger, which are clustered into three main groups: masked, explosive, and chronic anger styles.
The cluster of three anger styles subsumed in the grouping of "masked" anger styles envelop: anger avoidance, sneaky anger, and anger turned inwards. The group of four "explosive" anger styles encompass: sudden, shame based, deliberate, and excitatory anger. The remaining group of "chronic" anger styles is comprised of the fourfold cluster of: habitual hostility, paranoia (fear based anger), moral anger, and, lastly, resentment/hate.
Potter-Efron and Potter-Efron embace the view that the eleven anger styles described in the book have positive features as well as problematic aspects. And a strong emphasis of the book is an insightful and informative examination of positive and negative components of the respective anger styles. In fleshing out the bones of the eleven anger styles, Potter-Efron and Potter-Efron show much erudition. Engaging discourse focusing on perceived benefits and flaws of the variant anger styles is coupled tightly with multitudinous suggestions intended to help overcome challenges presented by each of the eleven anger styles with regard to handling anger well. There are, additionally, several "exercises" described for the reader, which are anchored in design to efficacious management of anger.
But some critics may question the wisdom and real life utility of attempting to self learn the hard earned skill of handling anger well by reading a book. With no desire to be churlish, critical readers may opine that many of the suggestions made by Potter-Efron and Potter-Efron, although intended laudably to help readers handle their anger well, are rather vague, and actually insufficiently specific to a degree substantially diminishing their real life import. And some of the suggestions, at least arguably, are a bit quirky in nature. Overall, the multitude of suggestions may be faulted by some for failing to provide a comprehensively detailed blueprint with respect to handling anger well. Persons with anger management issues may, instead, do better if they sought out the counsel of qualified professionals in the area of anger management. Likewise, those skeptical of a self help approach to overcoming anger related problems may admonish that the exercises described by Potter-Efron and Potter-Efron are an inadequate substitute for the advice of expert professionals.
Other issues, of possible critical concern to some, may be identified. The stylistic informality of the book is rather pronounced. Substantively, the lack of academic references dislodges the book's substance from a secure academic mooring. And, in a different vein, it is noteworthy that Potter-Efron and Potter-Efron make small effort to disentangle the knotty strands binding anger, widely ranging faith beliefs, and disparate cultural values.
Notwithstanding a bevy of possible criticisms, Potter-Efron and Potter-Efron certainly warrant many felicitations for their game efforts to grapple helpfully with a thicket of nettlesome problems associated potentially with a selected range of anger styles. The lucidly discerning discourse of Potter-Efron and Potter-Efron is an excellent contribution to the literature on anger, which may help readers get a stronger grip on handling their anger well. The thoughtful musings of Potter-Efron and Potter-Efron may, as well, be of greatly edifying professional interest to, among others: psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and social workers.
© 2007 Leo Uzych
Leo Uzych (based in Wallingford, PA) earned a law degree, from Temple University; and a master of public health degree, from Columbia University. His area of special professional interest is healthcare.